Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 191: We've got spooks and ghouls and freaks and fools

Actually, that's a lie. We haven't. But we – or rather I – have got some more ponyfic to review for you. I need it to take the bad taste away that I got when I discovered quite by chance that someone had written a Sweet Apple Massacre side-story – in mid-2017. I had hoped that... thing had been forgotten forever by now. No such luck. Anyway:

Read it Later story count: 353 (-6)

And now we're back in the magical land of Equestria. A reminder that my star rating system is deliberately skewed: a two-star fic can be one I found perfectly okay reading, and a three-star fic is one I felt was above average. This is to allow me to give the stories I find truly excellent or even exceptional more of an edge in the rankings. Here's today's collection:

Toot your own horn by Hoopy McGee
Stronghearted in the Desert by The Legend of Derpy
Maidens Day by bookplayer
The Thief and the Princess by Muramasa
Harmony by Allykitty

★: 0 | ★★: 3 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Toot your own horn by Hoopy McGee
Twilight, Spike, Celestia, Luna and Zecora
Comedy/Random; 7k words; Nov 2014; Teen
Twilight starts hearing strange noises from out of nowhere.
And, as you'd expect from the title, it turns out that "nowhere" is actually her horn. I didn't read this for a long time because what I'd heard of it made it sound like nothing more than an extended fart joke, and I rarely find those funny. However, this fic also gives us an interesting and (I think) unique reason for what's going on, as well as some amusing jokes. It's consistently silly without being stupid, which I appreciate. It is still a fart joke to a certain extent, but it's not just a fart joke. Despite some shaky Zecora-speak, that garners it a three-star rating. ★★★

Stronghearted in the Desert by The Legend of Derpy
Gilda and Little Strongheart
Romance/Sad; 2k words; Jul 2012; Everyone
Gilda left Ponyville to escape, not to find an annoying little buffalo and certainly not to love it.
The only story by this long-gone author, written when all we'd seen of griffons was a certain S1 episode, brings us a really unusual pairing. Gilda is trying to get away from Rainbow, for whom she clearly still carries a torch despite her humiliation in the ep. Unfortunately, most of the rest is less interesting and proceeds along the lines of "odd couple meet in trying circumstances and almost instantly fall for each other". The writing is odd: there are frequent basic errors, but just occasionally there's a really nice line like some vultures' "mournful song of pain, death, and lunch". Just about scrapes a two for that and for the originality of the pairing. Should be rated [Teen] for language, though. ★★

Maidens Day by  bookplayer
Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Twilight
Romance/Slice of Life; 27k words; Jul 2013; Mature (Sex)
What happens on Maidens Day is a closely guarded secret among pegasi and earth ponies. Now that Twilight is an alicorn, she'll have the chance to learn about it.
This fic has glorious world-building, giving us a fascinating look at a, well, earthier side of Equestrian culture that's never going to make it into a TV-Y show. You won't have many problems working out where the story is going: the underlying plot is really there to tie together the world-building and character interactions. There's no explicit sex until late on, but when it happens it's most definitely M-rated stuff – and well done, too. I thought the explanation for why unicorns no longer take part was a little thin, and the framework is predictable, but that world-building really is great. One of the rare fics which really does earn its right to a sex scene, too. ★★★★

The Thief and the Princess by Muramasa
Twilight and OC
Slice of Life; 3k words; Feb 2018; Everyone
A thief breaks into the royal palace in Canterlot to steal Celestia's crown. A certain Princess catches her.
This is probably the closest I've seen to a crossover between MLP and Thief: The Dark Project, though I don't think it was deliberately written as such. Celie's "public" crown is not the real one, which is hidden where nopony – or at least, only a very skilled thief – can find it. Unfortunately for said thief, she hasn't counted on Twilight's presence. This fic does its job fairly efficiently, and it touches (all too briefly) on an interesting point regarding cutie marks. However, it does lack a little sparkle (pun semi-intended) and the last line is either dull or disturbing depending on how you read it. Could do with a proofread, too. ★★

Harmony by Allykitty
Twilight and Sunset Shimmer
Equestria Girls/Slice of Life/Alternate Universe/Human; 1k words; Feb 2018; Everyone
Twilight looked at me and asked “Did it hurt?”
A simple, fluffy scene, told by Sunset Shimmer as she sips tea in a café, in which Twilight asks her marefriend what it was like when the crown transformed her. "Marefriend" is a bit of an odd word in an EqG setting, even allowing for the multidimensional nature of the romance, but the fic itself is unobjectionable and quite well written. It's not all that memorable, at least to me, but it would make a decent time-passer for your teabreak. ★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: stories reviewed should include xjuggernaughtx's Diary of a Pliant Tyrant.

2 comments:

  1. Regarding "Maiden's Day" - To me, the idea of an ancient fertility rite between two mares that CANNOT REPRODUCE didn't seem at all plausible, and was just a threadbare attempt to justify pairing up two of the mane six. I did very much enjoy the rest of the story.

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    1. I think that's fair comment, though Twilight does lampshade that very point in the story. That said, even if the entire story was written as a justification for an AppleDash sex scene, the building blocks are so solid that it's enjoyable in its own right. Hence the four.

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